Aldean honors Ve­gas on sur­prise visit to ‘SNL’

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COUN­TRY mu­sic star Ja­son Aldean, who was on­stage Oct. 1 when gun­fire erupted at Route 91 Har­vest fes­ti­val on the Strip, made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance dur­ing the open­ing of “Satur­day Night Live” tonight.

“When Amer­ica is at its best, our bond and our spirit, it’s un­break­able,” Aldean said. He then paid trib­ute to the 58 con­cert­go­ers who were killed at Route 91 and the 489 in­jured and also the late Tom Petty with a cover of Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

“This week, we wit­nessed one of the worst tragedies in Amer­i­can his­tory,” the coun­try artist said. “Like, every­one, I’m strug­gling to un­der­stand what hap­pened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal.”

Aldean was singing his own orig­i­nal “When She Says Baby,” when the shoot­ing broke out Sun­day. He has not said whether he will con­tinue to sing the song when his tour re­sumes in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, on Thurs­day night.

Shows of strength

The Strip’s newest arena and one of its lav­ishly ap­pointed the­aters will re­port­edly be the sites where Las Ve­gas en­ter­tain­ers will co­a­lesce to show strength and sup­port fol­low­ing the mass shoot­ing.

Though not yet an­nounced, an all-star show head­lined by some of the world’s big­gest tour­ing and record­ing artists is be­ing planned for T-Mo­bile Arena. I’m con­fi­dently in­formed this spec­ta­cle, which should be­come the largest sin­gle-day char­ity event ever in Las Ve­gas, is likely to be staged in Novem­ber, based on T-Mo­bile’s avail­abil­ity.

Con­cur­rently but un­re­lated to that event, a show ti­tled “Ve­gas Cares” spot­light­ing en­ter­tain­ers who make Las Ve­gas home has been set for Vene­tian Theater from 1-4 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Ve­gas-based per­form­ers

Clint Holmes, Frankie Scinta and Mur­ray Sawchuck and The Best Agency founder

Ken Hen­der­son are lead­ing the “Ve­gas Cares” ef­fort, which will em­brace the vast Las Ve­gas fam­ily of per­form­ers.

Ex­pect to see Cirque du Soleil artists, stand-up comics, ma­gi­cians and mu­si­cians in the show’s run­ning or­der. The event is to raise money for the Las Ve­gas Vic­tims’ Fund set up by Clark County Com­mis­sion Chair­man Steve Siso­lak.The cam­paign has raised more than $10 mil­lion.

The show is also to honor the first re­spon­ders, health­care pro­fes­sion­als and oth­ers who acted self­lessly and hero­ically amid the worst mass shoot­ing in mod­ern U.S. his­tory.

“I feel the same as every­one who is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this tragedy, and it’s just shock­ing,” Holmes says. “I re­ally think we need to em­brace those first re­spon­ders. Th­ese peo­ple are part of our fam­ily, and to honor them is rea­son enough to to this.”

Long­time Las Ve­gas pro­ducer Blair Fair­ing­ton of “Baz: Star Crossed Love” at Palazzo and mu­sic di­rec­tor Keith Thompson (late of “Jer­sey Boys” at Paris Las Ve­gas and the founder of The Com­posers Show­case of Las Ve­gas) lead the creative team. Tick­ets are $30 and will be on sale later this week through The Vene­tian box of­fice and Tick­et­mas­ter.

The show at T-Mo­bile re­flects a swift re­sponse from su­per­stars world­wide who have of­fered their draw­ing power in the week fol­low­ing the tragedy.

The T-Mo­bile show’s im­pact should be enor­mous. No en­ter­tainer is deemed too large for the event, which is so far un­ti­tled but de­signed to wel­come stars, no mat­ter where they per­formed in Las Ve­gas.

Or­ga­niz­ers are us­ing con­tacts with such tour­ing heavy­weights as AEG Live (a part­ner in T-Mo­bile Arena) and Live Na­tion.

With­out nam­ing names — talks are early and fluid — the show’s per­form­ers will in­clude head­lin­ers at MGM Re­sorts’ most prom­i­nent venues (par­tic­u­larly The Park Theater), Cae­sars En­ter­tain­ment Corp. the­aters (in­clud­ing the Colos­seum at Cae­sars Palace and Axis theater at Planet Hol­ly­wood Re­sort), The Joint at Hard Rock Ho­tel and Pearl Con­cert Theater at the Palms.

Tour­ing acts that have per­formed at T-Mo­bile, MGM Grand Gar­den Arena, Man­dalay Bay Events Cen­ter and at mul­ti­day events such as Life is Beau­ti­ful are also ex­pected to con­trib­ute.

The two shows share the spirit of the USO ben­e­fit show on Nov. 11, 2001, which was pro­duced by Smith Cen­ter Pres­i­dent My­ron Martin and starred sev­eral Strip head­lin­ers — in­clud­ing Holmes and Scinta — at Man­dalay Bay Events Cen­ter.

The Vene­tian Theater event folds in the orig­i­nal “Ve­gas Cares” ben­e­fit show, set for Oct. 29 at Palazzo Theater to aid in hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery ef­forts. That show has been can­celed. Also moved off the sched­ule is an Wed­nes­day night fundraiser fea­tur­ing a lineup of top chefs at Trop­i­cana, with those re­sources be­ing chan­neled to the new “Ve­gas Cares” show Nov. 5.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ja­son Aldean per­forms “I Won’t Back Down” on “Satur­day Night Live” in New York. In the show’s open­ing, Aldean, who was singing at the Route 91 Har­vest fes­ti­val when gun­fire erupted Oct. 1, paid trib­ute to the 58 vic­tims of the mas­sacre and to the late Tom Petty.

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